Smokeless Tobacco & Your Oral Health
Using tobacco products of any kind can not only have a detrimental effect on your overall health, there are multiple oral health diseases and problems that can also occur from the habit. Smokeless tobacco, also referred to as, dip, chew, spit, or snuff, is no exception. During this Oral Cancer Awareness Month, the team at our West Caldwell dental office would like to share some of the risks associated specifically with smokeless tobacco.
By now, everyone knows that smoking can cause all types of cancer, including oral cancer. But a lesser known fact is that using smokeless tobacco can also increase the risk of oral cancer. If not diagnosed and treated early, oral cancer can lead to death, which is one reason you should visit your dentist in West Caldwell at least twice a year. It’s also why you should know the signs of oral cancer, even if you don’t use tobacco. If you notice any of the signs below, call your dentist as soon as you can.
Signs of Oral Cancer
- A white, scaly patch on the inside of the cheek or lip
- Sores or lumps in the mouth or throat
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Sensation of something being stuck in your throat
Chewing tobacco is typically done by placing a pinch of tobacco in the mouth between the teeth and lip or cheek and leaving it there. This can cause the gums to recede. Gums normally protect the roots of the teeth, but once they recede, the roots and the nerves in those roots are exposed. This makes the chance of developing cavities much more likely. Not only that, it’s also common for people with receded gums to suffer from tooth sensitivity pain.
Using any kind of tobacco tends to transform teeth from bright and white to a more yellowish appearance. It’s due to in part to what’s in tobacco products, and also because of how often those addicted to tobacco use it. Nicotine and tar, which are commonly found in tobacco products, are a dangerous duo for several reasons, including discoloring teeth. While nicotine is colorless on its own, when it combines with oxygen, it takes on a yellow tint. When exposed to teeth, the tar and nicotine can penetrate tooth enamel, causing the teeth to appear yellow.
At our dental office in West Caldwell, we care about the health of our patients. And while we encourage each and every one of them to avoid tobacco, we understand that the habit may be difficult to break. If you’re looking for help trying to quit, we’ll be happy to help. Or head over to the American Cancer Society website to get started today.
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